Steve Ovenden (@happyhappysteve) believes the crowd in London will get a good game in this tight clash between the Buccaneers and Panthers
Week s brings us to London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for our second International Series game as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) host their NFC South Divisional rivals the Carolina Panthers (3-2). The first game in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last week saw the Oakland Raiders overcome the Chicago Bears 24-21 in a thrilling match-up.
Last week we saw the Carolina Panthers complete the turn around of their season with a 34-27 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. This win took the Panthers onto a three game winning streak which means they are now sitting at 3-2 after starting the season 0-2 with one of those losses coming at home to the Bucs. Tampa however, went in the opposite direction last week after a road loss of 31-24 to another divisional rival the New Orlean Saints and they now see themselves with a 2-3 record. The Bucs will want to take advantage of the enthusiastic London crowd to give themselves a boost to try and complete a season double over Carolina.
Both sides this week are finding preparation for Sundays game a little difficult as training is seeing numerous players limited or not participating because of injury. It has already been reported that Panthers quarterback Cam Newton did not travel because of his foot injury but perhaps more worryingly, Christian McCaffrey missed mid week practice due to a back injury. McCaffrey was highly influential in Carolina’s victory over the Jags by recording 176 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and six receptions for 61 yards and a third touchdown on the day. His absence would be a big miss for the Panthers and the British audience should he not play. Stand-in quarterback Kyle Allen would also be missing out. The improving Allen has started the last three games for the Panthers and they have won all three. The QB really has changed the Carolina offence and he himself has 60/90 for 674 yards over the three games. He will be hoping to top up these stats if all his weapons are available on Sunday.
Tampa have also had their fair share of players not practising so far this week. One notable absentee would be defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. He has been missing practice due to a knee problem but doesn’t mean he will miss the game on Sunday. He will be key if the Panthers have all their offence available. Bruce Arians has said this week that all injuries are minor apart from Guard Alex Coppa who is out with a broken arm. Jaimis Winston has been making steady progress over the course of the season so far and could provide some inspiration for the Bucs. His 102 completions from 160 attempts for 1371 yards puts him in good stead to put on a show with some big plays.
This game could be a tight affair. A divisional game which is essentially being played on a neutral field in a different country with both teams needing a win to stay in touch with the Saints who are sitting atop the division with a 4-1 season so far. Both teams have improving QB’s and talent on the offensive side of the ball. It could actually be the defences that have a big say on the fate of this game. Carolina boast the NFL’s third ranked pass defence and the Bucs have allowed the second fewest rushing yards per game. The London crowd shouldn’t be disappointed with this one.
Last Time They Met
12/9/2019 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20 @ 14 Carolina Panthers
Ones to Watch
Buccaneers: Jameis Winston – A good opportunity to keep improving on his season and could have a battle with his QB opposite Kyle Allen with some big plays.
Panthers: Kyle Allen – Like Winston, a good opportunity to improve his season by winning a tight divisional game, making it four wins on the spin and giving Ron Rivera something to think about for his future QB plans.
Carolina Panthers 21 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17